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1977 Vel’s Parnelli Jones Bronco

Part 2: Restored

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When documenting certain Fords, there is no substitute for the Marti Report. When Rich acquired the 1977 Vel’s Parnelli Jones Bronco, he immediately ordered the Marti Report for the vehicle. That document showed the Bronco was built on 07/13/1917 and was immediately sold the next day. It was sold as a commercial vehicle in Plymouth, Michigan, under DSO 89 (District Sales Office). It then was shipped immediately to Vel’s Parnelli Jones Ford in California. Why was it not sold and shipped directly to Parnelli’s store? This was likely done to avoid the stringent California emissions standards. It was licensed from 1978 to 1991 in California without ever having a smog pump system installed. California did not require vehicles purchased new outside of California to be updated to its emission equipment standards.

Rich purchased the Bronco on October 1, 2019 with 73,780 miles on the odometer. Rich completely inspected and evaluated the vehicle as to what needed to be restored and what needed to be replaced. He has been restoring cars since 1975, so he has the experience and knowledge to correctly examine a vehicle needing restoration. He followed this up with additional research on its history with the help of Wayne Eaton and Todd Zelcher. He then went on to painstakingly restore the Bronco back to its Vel’s Parnelli Jones “Day 2” modifications. This included such minor details as the correct American Racing swoosh decal on the rear wheel caps and American Racing locking lug nuts.

Rich had the custom loop carpet reproduced and installed. Numerous NOS parts were used, along with salvaging and restoring many original parts from the Bronco. Period correct NOS Gabriel shock absorbers were found. Many of the aftermarket items used on the Bronco’s original build were parts sold at Parnelli’s 40+ stores in California during the 70s and 80s. Parnellis was the exclusive West Coast distributor for Gabrielle shocks absorbers at that time.

Modifications by Bel’s Parnelli Jones, Inc.

  • Vel’s Parnelli Jones Build Plate on driver’s door.
  • Custom painted body stripes and silver pin stripping to immolate the 1976 to 1977 Parnelli Jones Indy Car paint schemes.
  • Hood panel painted black.
  • Blacked out grill similar to the Special Decor Package.
  • Blacked out emblem on the fender below “Parnelli” metal fender emblems.
  • Bumpers were blacked out and shortened by Dick Russell.
  • Custom dark blue carpeting and padding added throughout the passenger area.
  • Roll bar installed and seat belt loops fitted for racing seatbelts but believed to have never been used.
  • Following accessories added:
    • American Racing wheels and oversized tires.
    • Gabriel shocks.
    • Italian Vitoloni Tornado mirrors (large).
    • Momo Cobra steering wheel in leather.
    • Anti-theft interior door locking knobs, licking lug nuts and a padlock for the rear spare tire.
    • American Flag decal as Parnelli put on all hi modified vehicles.
    • Accessory decals on door jams.

Restoration by Rich included:

  • Engine was disassembled, rebuilt, painted, and the wiring harness restored.
  • Engine compartment was painted and restored to original configuration using low mile survivor photos and information. The radiator was replaced.
  • The dashboard was completely disassembled, painted, reassembled, gauges restored, knobs and buttons replaced as needed.
  • The vehicle had minimal rust with the floor pan in excellent condition except for the driver’s side flat area and a small rust hole in the driver’s sidekick panel.
  • The seats were padded and recovered. The seat frames were repainted.
  • The cardboard headliner was replaced.
  • The vehicle had been repainted. The paint was carefully stripped to reveal the original striping configuration and paint color. The body was repainted inside and out. The original paint was recreated with a white body, black on the hood and blue stripes on the sides with silver pin striping.
  • Most weather seals, felts, and window channeling were replaced.
  • The doors, tailgate and lift gate latches and window regulators were restored.
  • The suspension was in excellent condition when Rich acquired the Bronco but he went on to replace all rubber hoses, brakes, and any suspension components that were out of tolerance. The shocks were replaced. The original American Racing Wheels were restored, and new BFG all-terrain TA tires were installed.

Items included with Bronco but never installed.

  • Two sets of original keys and key tags that hung in the VPI Torrence CA key box.
  • A complete VPJ uniform (Wayne’s).
  • A period correct KC Hilites with red, white and blue USA covers.
  • Set of chrome tow hooks.
  • Set of hood pins and cables.
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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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